I love salads. I can’t remember the last day I didn’t have one in some fashion, whether it be a cool cucumber salad in the summer, a fruit salad in the spring, or a warm salad like this when the weather gets a little chilly. This vegan Warm Quinoa Salad is all about balancing warm quinoa, mixed with fresh herbs, lots of lemon, olive oil, and some seasonal ingredients like pomegranates and hearty kale. Some of you may be thinking I’ve gone off the deep talking about warm salads. Let’s elaborate on the idea…
If you’ve never tried a warm grain salad before, I think you’re in for a treat! I shy away from using the word recipe with any salad because you literally put whatever greens and vegetables you enjoy in a bowl and call it a day! But, for the sake of this being a new type of salad idea to try, I’ve laid out my favorite go-to warm quinoa salad recipe with special attention to some of my favorite seasonal produce this winter like pomegranates, citrus, and hearty kale.
The combination of warm quinoa, with bright and citrusy lemon, fresh parsley, earthy kale, and an underlying flavor of onion and garlic is sublime. The best part of this entire recipe are the pomegranates that pop with tart and sweet juice when you bite into them – they’re the best addition to this salad! If you don’t have pomegranates, a couple other fruits that would be beautiful here would be tart cherries, figs, apricots, or dried mulberries. Overall this salad can be enjoyed as a starter, a side dish, or an entree if you increase the portion and add protein and a little extra healthy fats. As with all my recipes, I always encourage you to use whatever ingredients you have handy that are seasonal to your region or what you enjoy, and you always make adjustments depending on your energy needs and goals. A go-to for me is adding in about 3 tablespoons of omega-3 and protein rich hemp seeds for a boost of protein and minerals. You can also add organic sprouted tofu or organic tempeh for a vegan source of protein, though sometimes I’ll add grilled shrimp or a couple poached eggs – you get the flexibility here! I love serving this with a crunchy topping like raw pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, raw chopped almonds, etc. Just add anything that you enjoy.
But what about leftovers? Great question! That’s the best part of this salad! It makes for a great lunch on the go or quick dinner which you can gently reheat on the skillet for less than 5 minutes on medium heat to warm it through. Another option – if you’re in the mood for a cold salad, don’t reheat. The versatility of this recipe is simple as that. I make this recipe on my Batch Cooking day and it’s amazing!
- 1 cup dry quinoa (yields about 2 cups cooked quinoa)
- ¼ cup olive oil (reserve 2 tablespoons for the dressing, the rest for cooking)
- ½ medium red onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 cups kale
- Juice of 2 lemons
- Zest of 1 lemon
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- Seeds of 1 pomegranate (about ¾ cup seeds)
- How to cook quinoa, read here. You can use white, red, or black.
- In a medium-heated skillet, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, sliced red onion, and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and sea salt and black pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes until fragrant. Add kale, kale will wilt with heat so try adding a little at a time if 8 cups at once is too much for the size of the pan.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked kale and cooked quinoa. Next drizzle in the remaining olive oil (2 tablespoons or so), lemon juice, lemon zest, pomegranate seeds, and fresh parsley. Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
- Serve warm, may add pine nuts, walnuts, any nut or seed to the top or protein suggestions in blog post. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week. Reheat upon serving in the skillet.
Warm salads a go?
Do you do warm salads? What are your favorite seasonal ingredients you would put in this salad? Let me know what you think when you give this recipe a go! Leave a comment and rate it, rating helps me continue to improve recipes for you. I love seeing what you come up with so don’t forget to take a picture and tag it #nutritionstripped on Instagram!
Tis’ the season, so get ahead of it. I coach 1-1 with people like you over the world to help optimize your health, reach goals, feel and look amazing! Sign up here to chat with me about how we can work together and take the first step to make this your healthiest and happiest year yet.